Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Teens and Tax Time

It’s the time of year when we start to think about doing our taxes.  That makes it a good time to talk to your teens about taxes, what they are and where they go.

An easy place to start is with sales taxes.  Most communities have taxes on the items you purchase (other than food).  When you purchase items for the home or your child saves up to buy a toy, help them notice the extra cost of taxes.  If your state does not have sales taxes, believe me, they come from somewhere else, usually property taxes.  Find out how your local government is funded.  Where does the money come from to repair the potholes? To run the schools? To pay policemen and firemen?

When my husband and I went to Ukraine in 1999, there were potholes in some roads big enough and deep enough to swallow a car.  Yikes.  That was a picture of a government that was not functioning well.

Another place is to show your teen how much you pay in taxes on gasoline and tires.  These funds go to build roads.  Part of the fees on tires is for the disposal of the old ones. (How many million must there be every year?!)

Talk about the things the state government funds such as schools, colleges, prisons, and roads.  (Funded by state income taxes.)  Look at how park fees are used in your state.  It is easy to take these things for granted until their existence is threatened.

And of course, the federal government funds the military, welfare and food stamp programs and so on.  Explain income taxes to your teenager.  When they are old enough to have a part-time job, they will be filing income taxes even if it is just the post card.  Help them understand what the deductions on a paycheck are for.  When Social Security is deducted, employers pay half.  If you are self-employed, you pay the whole thing.  You can also discuss the income tax deduction that is allowed for each child in a family.  Yay!

Another fun thing to discuss is “Tax Freedom Day,” the day of the year on which the average person has earned enough to pay all their various taxes.  In 2000 it fell on May 1.  For 2017 it fell on April 24.  That means over 31% of all the earnings of an average person go to pay taxes.

Jesus even addressed the need to pay taxes.  (Matthew 17:24-27 and Matthew 22:15-22)  

The saying goes that there are two things that are inevitable:  death and taxes.  We may not like paying taxes, but people who don’t pay their taxes go to jail.  And we certainly are thankful for the good life we have in the United States.

For more parenting help go to www.IntentionalParenting.us or consider my book, Intentional Parenting: A Guide for Christian Parents.  There is also a Small Group guide with discussion questions for couples or groups.

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